Freestanding tents don’t need to be staked to be pitched and can be raised or moved anywhere. Staked tents are lighter and cheaper. Which is best for you?
The typical two-person camping tent is a small, lightweight shelter. How small and how lightweight depends on what kind of trip you are taking and whether you will be carrying the tent yourself (hiking) or whether it will carry for you (trekking, kayaking, biking). Once you’ve decided on your tent’s size and weight, you’ll need to figure out whether you want a freestanding tent or whether you want a tent that must stake.
Freestanding Tents: Advantaged and Disadvantages
Before choosing a freestanding tent, consider the following pros, cons, and features.
- Freestanding tents can pitch anywhere there is space, including a wooden tent platform, a gravel road, a sandy shore, or snow.
- Freestanding tents are easier to pitch, especially by one person.
- Freestanding tents are often a little heavier because they may have more poles than staked tents.
- Many freestanding tents have a domed shape that sheds wind well. (The fact that some have more poles, or crossed sticks, makes them structurally stronger in high winds)
- You can pick up a freestanding tent and move it if it turns out that your original spot isn’t as straightforward as you thought.
- Note that most freestanding tents have at least one or two stakes that should place in the ground for maximum efficiency (pulling out the rain flaps to shed water better or staking the vestibule). And most freestanding tents can (and usually should ) be staked when possible to prevent them from being carried up by a gust of wind and tossed down a mountain.
Staked Tents: Advantages and Disadvantages
- Staked tents tend to be a little bit lighter in weight for the same amount of floor space because they usually have only one or two poles.
- Staking guarantees that your tent will stay on the ground and not be blown away.
- Staked tents are often a little bit less expensive than freestanding tents.
- Some staked tents have a peaked shape that can be noisy and unstable in strong winds.
- Staked tents can be a little trickier to put up the first few times, especially by one person.
Of course, there are other things to consider when buying a tent: Price, floor room, weight, headroom, how many people it sleeps, and what season it intends for are some of the significant issues. But all things being equal, most hikers find that a freestanding tent gives a slight margin of convenience and flexibility, especially when pitching a tent on extremely hard (or highly soft) surfaces. So it’s a consideration that should include in your buying decision.